Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Media Elitist Reviews...I Am Number Four

  **Warning:Mild Spoilers**
    Generally speaking, I am not a fan of action movies. Elaborate chase scenes and dramatic fight sequences do little to impress me.  So imagine my surprise when I found the previews for I Am Number Four intriguing.  Imagine my further surprise when, after seeing the movie Friday evening, I realized that I really enjoyed it.

   Now let's be clear: I Am Number Four is far from a masterpiece.  It spends far too long providing backgrounds stories for the main characters and establishing the romantic relationship between Number Four aka John Smith(Alex Pettyfer) and Sara( Glee's Dianna Agron). However, the film truly shines when creating a sense of suspense and keeping viewers(at least this viewer) on the edge of their seats.  Alas, I am getting ahead of myself.  The premise of the movie is this:

   The planet Lorien was destroyed by the Mogadorians invaders.  Because of this, nine babies were sent to Earth to escape their terror.  Years have passed and the Mogadorians are hunting down the elite children of Lorien, one by one. One through Three are dead and now they are hunting down Number Four.  Assisting him is Henri(Timothy Olyphant), his assigned protector and Sam(Callan McAuliffe),the son of a Lorien supporter.  The Mogadorians kill Henri, leaving Number Four to fully come into his powers and use them protect himself and his loved ones.

   This is where the film picks up drastically.  Number Four is evading the police and Mogadorians at every turn, his safety remaining questionable.  He meets up with Number Six and the two join forces in a raging battle against the Mogadorian soldiers. It is a fast-paced swirl of constant action as the two use their powers of super strength, speed, energy infused hands, and control over the elements in their battle against their enemy. There are many close calls but in the end Number Four and Number Six are victorious in their endeavors. They even get a clue leading them to another one of their fellow Lorien survivors(which, of course, leaves the door wide open for a sequel).

   All in all, I felt this flick was quite enjoyable.  The action sequences were engaging (also terrifying at times) and everything leading up to it had me holding my breath in anticipation.  While the acting wasn't exactly memorable, the actors played their roles with a certain level of comfort.  I would have loved more background information on the planet Lorien and the journey of the nine children to Earth.  Hopefully this will get addressed in future projects.

I Am Number Four is a pretty interesting film.  If you get a chance to see it, please share your thoughts here!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

White House Motown Tribute: What's Wrong With This Picture?

   Wednesday morning I learned something pretty interesting.  Word got out that President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (in conjunction with PBS) will host a concert for Black History Month. Entitled "The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House", the concert will take place on February 24 and broadcast on PBS station at 8 PM on March 1st. The acts include such musical talents as Smokey Robinson, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas, Ledisi, John Legend, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, Amber Riley, and more.
   Sounds like an amazing show, right? I love that the Obama's find time to include such fun and entertaining events into their busy schedules.  There is just one teeny, tiny issue I have. That's the lineup for a Motown tribute??  What's wrong with this picture? Where is the Motown representation? The record label has such a rich history that includes producing a lot of tremendous talent.  How can you pay tribute to it without including more acts that helped bring it notoriety? I'm sure that Smokey will do a wonderful job but what about Stevie Wonder, the Jackson brothers(they probably need work), The Temptations(they still have one original member), or Boyz II Men(they're contemporary but they were signed to the label and released an album of Motown covers)? Despite any business differences or unresolved issues that may exist, they all started their climb to fame at Motown Records.

    I don't know about you all, but when it comes to tributes I want more than just a group of singers performing classic numbers from an artist or record label.  I want to see the subject of the tribute perform in some capacity (if possible). I also want the line up to make sense. Don't just get any artist with an ounce of talent to participate in a tribute. I'm sorry but Nick Jonas and Sheryl Crow seem kind of out of place to me.And while I'm on the topic(and being completely honest with you all), the talent picked for the Aretha Franklin tribute at Sunday's Grammy Awards was a bit odd to me as well. This is the Queen of Soul you're honoring.  Did all of those performers embody soul?? I'm just sayin'.

   I don't know.  Perhaps I am over thinking this.  Or maybe I'm letting my nostalgia for the "good old days" of Motown color my perception.  Maybe there will be lots of classic Motown acts in attendance simply enjoying a great show.  I'm certainly no insider to know all the details. ;-)

Readers, what is your take on this? Am I crazy?  Do you think the line up is solid? What other contemporary artists do you think can (literally) sing the praises of Motown. Let me know!

Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 Grammy Awards-10 Random Questions

I have a confession for you all: I was super excited about this Grammy Awards. It's the first one to air since I started this blog and I was going to watch, tweet, and blog about "Musics big night!"  Sadly, that night was far from big. It was minuscule and extremely underwhelming.  I spent the majority of the evening wondering: Why are the Grammy Awards so boring?!??

Despite my limited attention span, I managed to watch the entire show. Here are some other life changing(read: trivial) questions that came to mind:

  • Was I the only one who found the Aretha Franklin tribute underwhelming? Vocally, Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride, and Florence Welch sounded great but it missed a certain...umph!

  • Why was Lady Gaga's performance so dull?!? The song, outfit, and dancing were all extra bland.

  • Will Janelle Monae ever wear an outfit that has color in it?

  • Is Justin Bieber the reason why Usher insists on singing and dancing like a teen?

  • At what point will Jada & Will tell Jaden that rapping just might not be his strong suit?

  • Why do they invite rappers if they're going to bleep out half of what they say?

  • Why was Cee-Lo dressed like Big Bird's cousin? And why did it work sooo well in an over-the-top way?

  • Can Rihanna stop yodeling at every. freakin'. awards. show? In fact, she should limit the singing altogether and just dance. 

  • Did Eminem sign a contract stating he must look pissed off 24/7? 

  • Do the music Powers That Be think we believe Drake has chemistry with Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, or any random chick they put him on a track with? News flash: We don't.  
I hope next year the Grammy Award organizers find some way to make the show more entertaining. After all, three hours is a LOT to fill. My ideas? 1)A host might help break up the monotony of performances and award distribution. 2)Mix up the types of performances. Two consecutive slow songs brings down the flow. 3)Is it possible to cut down on the length? Let's be real, they only give away a few awards on camera anyway. The rest is just filler. Trim the fat please!

Dearest readers, did you watch the 2011 Grammy Awards? What were your thoughts? Favorite/least favorite moments? Let a sista know!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will the Kardashians PLEASE Sit Down?!

Wednesday morning I was enjoying my day off by lounging around and watching the Wendy Williams Show (How YOU doin'!?). During the Hot Topics segment, she discussed the new unisex fragrance from Khloe Kardashian and her husband Lamar Odom. I already knew they were jumping on the perfume bandwagon and thought that was crazy enough.  I should have known that when the Kardashian's are involved, there is always room for more crazy.

Check out the commercial for Khloe and Lamar's Unbreakable:

*Deep sigh* Must they be so extra?!? All of the time?!! This ad doesn't make me want to buy anything from these two. I do, however, have questions.

Why the gratuitous shots of their wedding rings? Do they think they have to remind us of their loooove?
Why are they naked? And why do I feel like this could have been filmed at their home...in their bedroom? O_O
Why is she wrapped around  him like a human bodysuit? Is this her idea of being a classy spokeswoman?
Could the dialogue be any more nondescript? What are they even talking about?? (I think my ears shut down once my eyes got assaulted by the visuals)

Readers, talk to me. Am I bugging out? Have I somehow missed the artistic merit behind this commercial? Let a sista know!

Oh, and here is one more Kardashian gem(Just in case you somehow missed it LoL)   ;-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Media Elitist Speaks: The Pepsi Commercial Controversy

For many, the Superbowl is about the final match up between the two best teams in the NFL.  I am not one of those people. For me, it's all about the commercials.  After all, the commercial are a major part of the game.  Advertisers spend exorbitant amounts of money on their spots and they're hoping that their ad will be unique enough to capture shopping dollars from viewers.  With all of that on the line, it's a battle to see the biggest, funniest, flashiest, and most outrageous commercials.

Sunday night's Superbowl was no different--the commercials were full of gimmicks and celebrity endorsements.  One commercial, however, has generated a lot talk that I'm sure the ad executives didn't anticipate.  If you somehow miss the cries of outrage from African American women everywhere, here is the ad in question:

I won't lie to you all, I didn't see anything wrong with this Pepsi ad the first time I watched it.  The beginning sort of confused me but when the couple ran after hitting the white woman with the can? I laughed. I watched it again Monday morning and still didn't feel much.  I wasn't outraged and I didn't feel like suddenly running out for a Pepsi.  I just chalked it up to a Three Stooges style of comedy and moved on.

Apparently my first reaction fell into the minority.  I soon realized that many people were offended. Offended? But why? I asked myself (and a friend I knew wouldn't judge me) these questions and soon learned the answer. Angry black woman stereotypes + physical abuse + white woman lust=indignation and frustration.  So I thought about it and watched the commercial again.  I recognized all the elements.  Far too often, African American women are portrayed as sassy and snappy in the media.  Must we get hit with this notion over and over and over again?!? Is there any doubt that the commercial would have been equally effective if the woman gave her man a "no you don't" look and replaced his junk food with a healthier option? Couldn't a mischievous look from her, play off of a bewildered one from him and still lead to comedy gold? Wouldn't a different twist be the man catching his woman drinking something unhealthy and mimic her behavior by switching it with a Pepsi Max? If the scowls, kicks, and googly eyes at another woman were gone completely, would the commercial simply fall apart? We may never know.

I have another confession--while I see and understand the issues, I am still not outraged.  I feel sort of bad that I'm not bonding with sisters over this issue but it hasn't really hit me in that same way. However, I completely agree that the media desperately needs to diversify the way African American are depicted. We're constantly shoved into a box that will never bring to light all that we are.  It may be easy to brush it off by saying, It's just a commercial or It's TV-It's meant to entertain but for those with no real insight to who we are, it becomes an assumed reality. And that's something I just can't brush off with ease.

This was the (relatively) easy part: identifying and discussing the problem. Now for the tough part: finding solutions.  How can we start to see changes in the way we are depicted? My theory? We need to start grooming our young people to not only work in media, but also to seek out higher level positions(I know, I know--I have such big dreams).  Perhaps large scale letter writing campaigns to major ad companies would become a persistent enough voice to get heard (in time).I also hope that students studying media in school(whether it's PR/Advertising, radio production, or television/film) are learning that techniques that can lead to success in their field and ways to execute them without compromising our public perception.  These ideas may not be feasible right now, but the reality is that we need to find some way to inspire change unless we want to have these same discussions 50 years from now.

 So Dear Readers, it's time to get your feedback: What are your thoughts on this Pepsi commercial?  Has your opinion changed in any manner? Do you have any idea on how we can diversity our public image?

I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tyler Perry Slated to Star in NONTyler Perry Studios Production

I was browsing through my timeline on Twitter Tuesday morning when I saw Tyler Perry’s name appear in a few tweets.  Assuming it was something funny, I read a little closer.  Phrases like, “Tyler Perry as a leading man” and “Idris Elba should not lose roles to Tyler Perry” jumped out at me.  I didn’t know the full story but I knew it couldn't be good.
                So like the glutton for punishment I am, I did a quick Google search for Mr. Perry. My search brought up one article and the headline jumped out at me: “Tyler Perry to play Alex Cross” Okay, this was bad and getting much worse. I read on: Tyler Perry has signed on to play the role of Alex Cross -- the crime-solving D.C. detective in James Patterson's seemingly never-ending series of popular novels -- in a new movie called "I, Alex Cross." The article later made a passing reference to Idris Elba who was originally slated to take on the title role.
I admit that I've never read a James Patterson novel. I didn't even see the first Alex Cross film that starred Morgan Freeman. I don't think it's that relevant. Here is the main issue at hand: Tyler Perry is set to star in a movie that he didn't write, direct, or produce(for now—who knows if that'll change). He is set to star in a movie that takes him outside of Madea's orthopedic shoes and gray wig. Perry is set to star in a movie that will require real acting. Real acting...from Tyler Perry!! Much like Spike Lee, Tyler Perry has a tendency to cast himself in just about every film he released. This is unfortunate because, well, Perry's acting leaves a lot to be desired. His performances rely on lots of grinning and laughing. That is not exactly the foundation of an effective actor.
I don't mean to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but something about this whole situation seems suspicious. Idris Elba is highly regarded in the acting community as a outstanding performer. So how did he end up losing a role to Tyler Perry?! Did someone look at the two and honestly think, “Never mind Elba's impressive resume. Tyler Perry is our man!” I'm sorry. I can't believe that. I refuse to believe that. What I do believe is that Perry's bank account coupled with his clout are powerful resources in Hollywood. And I will leave it at that.
Needless to say, if this movie does come out I probably will not see it. I'm trying to imagine Perry playing a detective and I'm drawing a blank. That can't be a good sign. But like I said, I'm a glutton for punishment. I'll read all the reviews and, if I can suspend my disbelief, maybe I'll spend a dollar to rent it from Redbox. Maybe.

Dearest readers, what are your thoughts about Mr. Perry getting more involved in the world of acting?
Would you consider seeing this movie?
Am I being too hard on him/too cynical?
I'd love to hear from you!